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Jack Kevorkian Is Dead – Without Any Help

A long and somewhat fulsome obituary from his deathless fans at the New York Times:

Jack Kevorkian Dies at 83; Backed Assisted Suicide

Published: June 3, 2011

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the central figure in the tumultuous national drama surrounding assisted suicide, died Friday in a Michigan hospital. He was 83 and lived in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

The cause of his death was not immediately known, but local media reported that he had suffered from kidney and respiratory problems and that his condition had been worsening in recent days. His death was confirmed by Geoffrey Feiger, the lawyer who represented him during several of his trials in the 1990s.

Dr. Kevorkian, a medical pathologist, challenged social taboos about disease and dying, willfully defied prosecutors and the courts, actively sought national celebrity, and spent eight years in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in the death of the last of the more than 100 terminally ill patients whose lives he helped end.

The New York Times is not being fair. Mr. Kevorkian put the number at over 130.

From June 1990, when he assisted in the first suicide, until March 1999, when he was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years in a maximum security prison, Dr. Kevorkian was a controversial figure. But his critics and supporters generally agree on this: As a result of his stubborn and often intemperate advocacy for the right of the terminally ill to choose how they die, hospice care has boomed in the United States, and physicians have become more sympathetic to their pain and more willing to prescribe medication to relieve it

Notice how even this fans at the New York Times find it hard to just come right out and say that thanks to Mr. Kevorkian’s noble work more doctors are willing and able to kill their patients, if they are asked to. (Which, by the way, is certainly not a new practice.)

The American Medical Association in 1995 called him “a reckless instrument of death” who “poses a great threat to the public.”

How backward of the AMA. Thank goodness we have progressed since then.

In the late 1980s, after an undistinguished career in medicine and an unsuccessful try at a career in the arts, Dr. Kevorkian rediscovered the fascination with death, not as a private event but as a focus of public policy, that had marked his early years in medicine

Fiercely principled and highly inflexible, he rarely dated and never married. He lived a penurious life, eating little, avoiding luxury and dressing in threadbare clothing that he often bought at the Salvation Army and Goodwill. In 1976, bored with medicine, he moved to Long Beach, Calif., where he spent 12 years producing an unsuccessful film about Handel’s “Messiah,” painting and writing, supporting himself with part-time pathology positions at two hospitals

[Years later he returned to his home state of] Michigan and began advertising in Detroit-area newspapers for a new medical practice in what he called “bioethics and obiatry,” which would offer patients and their families “death counseling.” He made reporters aware of his intentions, explaining that he did not charge for his services and bore all the expenses of euthanasia himself. He showed journalists the simple metal frame from which he suspended vials of drugs — thiopental, a sedative, and potassium chloride, which paralyzed the heart — that allowed patients to end their own lives…

Drugs that are effectively illegal for use on death row today because they are not humane enough.

He also talked about the “doctrine” he had developed to achieve two goals: ensuring the patient’s comfort and protecting himself against criminal conviction in a court of law. He required patients to clearly express a wish to die. Family physicians and mental health professionals were exhaustively consulted. At least a month was needed to give patients time to consider and change their minds. Dr. Kevorkian videotaped interviews that he conducted with patients, their families and their friends. And he videotaped the suicides, which he called “medicides.”

On June 4, 1990, Janet Adkins, a teacher from Oregon who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was the first patient to avail herself of Dr. Kevorkian’s assistance. Mrs. Adkins’s life ended on the bed inside Dr. Kevorkian’s rusting 1968 Volkswagen van, which was parked in a campground near his home.

Which, of course, was the very epitome of ‘death with dignity.’

Immediately afterward Dr. Kevorkian called the police, who arrested and briefly detained him. The next day Ron Adkins, her husband, and two of his sons held a news conference in Portland and read the suicide note Mrs. Adkins had prepared. In an interview with The New York Times that same day, Dr. Kevorkian alerted the nation to his campaign.

“My ultimate aim is to make euthanasia a positive experience,” he said. “I’m trying to knock the medical profession into accepting its responsibilities, and those responsibilities include assisting their patients with death.”

Isn’t it telling the people and causes that the New York Times chooses to promote?

Over the next eight years Dr. Kevorkian said that he assisted in some 130 suicides. Patients from across the country traveled to the Detroit region to seek his help. Their bodies turned up in homes, cars, campgrounds, apartments and hospitals across southeast Michigan

In 1991 a state judge, Alice Gilbert, issued a permanent injunction barring Dr. Kevorkian from using his suicide machine. The same year the state suspended his license to practice medicine. In 1993 Michigan approved a statute outlawing assisted suicide. It was declared unlawful by a state judge and the state Court of Appeals, but in 1994 the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that assisting in a suicide was a common-law felony, and that there was no protected right to suicide assistance under the state Constitution.

None of the legal restrictions seemed to matter to Dr. Kevorkian. In several instances he assisted in patient suicides just hours after being released from custody for helping in a previous one. After one arrest in 1993 he refused to post bond, and a day later he said he was on a hunger strike. During another arrest he fought with police officers and seemed to invite the opportunity to spend time in jail.

It’s almost as if he liked what he was doing.

He obviously liked the attention. At the start of his third trial, on April 1, 1996, he showed up in court wearing Colonial-era clothing to show how medieval he thought the charges were.

From May 1994 to June 1997, Dr. Kevorkian stood trial four times in the deaths of six patients. With the help of his young and flamboyant defense attorney, Mr. Feiger, three of those trials ended in acquittal and the fourth was declared a mistrial…

But on March 26, 1999, after a trial that lasted less than two days, a Michigan jury found Dr. Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder. That trial came six months after Dr. Kevorkian had videotaped himself injecting Thomas Youk, a patient suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), with the lethal drugs that caused Mr. Youk’s death on Sept. 17, 1998.

Dr. Kevorkian sent the videotape to “60 Minutes,” which broadcast it on Nov. 22. The tape clearly showed Dr. Kevorkian going well beyond assisting a patient in causing his own death. The program portrayed him as a zealot with an agenda. “They must charge me. Either they go or I go,” he told Mike Wallace. “If they go, that means they’ll never convict me in a court of law.”

The broadcast, which prompted a national outcry about medical ethics and media responsibility, also served as prime evidence for a first-degree murder charge brought by the Oakland County prosecutor’s office

“You had the audacity to go on national television, show the world what you did and dare the legal system to stop you,” said District Judge Jessica R. Cooper, who presided over the trial. “Well, sir, consider yourself stopped.”

On June 1, 2007, Dr. Kevorkian was released from prison after he assured authorities he would never conduct another assisted suicide…

He was the author of four books, including “Prescription: Medicide, the Goodness of Planned Death” (Prometheus, 1991). He is survived by his sister Flora Holzheimer, who lives in Germany.

If Mr. Kevorkian had only lived in Germany a few decades earlier, he may have had a much more fulfilling life.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, June 3rd, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Jack Kevorkian Is Dead – Without Any Help”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Such a sad, tormented soul. So tormented, he had to take it out on those who had no desire to live.

    Kevorkian was a sociopath. His personality, lifestyle and habits are textbook. His talent was coming up with a philosophical argument that played well into the liberal ideal; That man is in control of everything. It allowed him to satisfy his desire to kill people. He was Hannibal Lecter without the melodrama and scripted evilness, making him able to hide from the obvious. Since it wasn’t spelled out by a hollywood writer, the liberal left could not see it. We live in a sick world.

  2. tranquil.night says:

    “[Years later he returned to his home state of] Michigan and began advertising in Detroit-area newspapers for a new medical practice in what he called “bioethics and obiatry,” which would offer patients and their families ‘death counseling.'”

    Hrm hrm – where have I heard ‘end of life counseling’ used before…

    Oh, that’s right, in reference to That Which Must Be Repealed’s Death Panels Independent Payment Advisory Board.

    Only one question though before this story can come full circle – did Dr. Death profess his work as a homage to Mother Gaia like other masterful Artists of Population Control like Manson, Kaczynski, and Cass Sunstein?

  3. TerryAnne says:

    As a result of his stubborn and often intemperate advocacy for the right of the terminally ill to choose how they die, hospice care has boomed in the United States…

    How DARE them insinuate a correlation between this psychotic man’s “quest” and hospice care! Hospice has absolutely nothing to do with what K did. When my beloved grandmother was dying from cancer, hospice was a blessing and the nurses were angels. They did keep my grandmother on morphine in her last days, but it was to dampen the pain and hallucinations from the cancer in her brain; never did they give her enough to kill her. This absolutely disgusts me that the author would associate the two.

    an undistinguished career in medicine

    bored with medicine

    Which is it? These two give entirely different pictures of this guy’s “career” in “medicine”. The implication that he was booted out or really sucked at his job is too big to miss.

    He lived a penurious life, eating little…

    and a day later he said he was on a hunger strike.

    Um… If he ate little, would he really be on a hunger strike…or would it really be that “tormenting” for him?

    Fiercely principled

    Of all people they chose to use this on…

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Indeed, this is a false assumption on the part of the writer. It may be that the writer is saying that hospice care has boomed in the US due to the nature of people who want to make sure their loved ones are cared for and comfortable in their last moments, vs. just “pulling the plug”. But either meaning could be interpreted by the way it’s been written. This really is a hit-piece of good ol’ “Dr Jack”. There is little about him that can be said that is good. The fact that he was allowed to carry out as many homicides as he did is really what’s most sinister.

    • TerryAnne says:

      Just the simple correlation between K and hospice makes my blood curdle. :P

      I don’t know if this is actually a hit-piece, though. To me, this article is meant to elicit sympathy. The word choices throughout were very specific; in fact, opening with the “link” between K and hospice could be considered the key (that they want people to think he was good).

      Not only how many he carried out, but how he flaunted them as well. He was no shrinking violet when it came to fessing up. Bit of psychopathic tendencies on display there.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Perhaps I should’ve said, unintended hit piece. By highlighting his “career” the intelligent person can assess what he was quite easily, regardless of terms used to solicit sympathy.

    • TerryAnne says:

      LOL. I can acknowledge that. :D

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    Jack!? JACK!!
    Try to come back and let us know if Teddy is still sober…….will ya?
    (’cause it’s the frying pan for you)

  5. jobeth says:

    “If Mr. Kevorkian had only lived in Germany a few decades earlier, he may have had a much more fulfilling life.”

    Or little later….he would have been a shoe in to have been chair on O’balmy’s Health (no) Care death panels. He must have been kicking himself for being born too late…and too early. Surely he knows he missed both boats!

  6. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Sociopath: http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

    Fits both Kevorkian and, to a much greater extent, Obama.

  7. U NO HOO says:

    Remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer has “The Kevorka?” Was that a spoof of Kevorkian?

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